Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Haunting Photo

[NOTE: evidently Snopes doesn't like one to directly link their photos and it was replaced. To see the photo in question, please go to]

Have you ever seen a photo and not been able to erase the image from your mind? I saw one today which made me run the gamut from horror to rage.

I get a weekly e-mail update from Snopes. com, which is a site dedicated to putting Internet myths in their place. It also offers reliable information on the latest virus/worm/trojan or whatever other evil a bored geek can render to cyberspace.

Today's edition included the story of free lance photographer Kevin Carter, who in 1994 snapped a Pulitzer prize winning photo of a starving child in South Africa. The girl, who was a toddler, was trying to crawl a mile to the nearest U.N. feeding station. Someone had their eye on her, but it was most definitely not a guardian angel. Three months later, citing depression compounded by being rewarded for the photo, Carter committed suicide. The story also notes he'd had many other problems from financial to drug use, but supposedly the fallout from the photo was his personal final straw.

I know the role of a photojournalist is to simply document. But does there come a time when you trade your role as "observer" for that of a human being who gives a damn? Has society become so jaded that doing one's job takes precedent over doing the right thing? I hope not. It doesn't in my world. The story noted that Carter actually sat there for 20 minutes, looking for the best angle to illustrate the "tragic story" of famine. He took his shot, walked away and had himself a good cry.

He walked away. How?

Looking at that child I don't see a photo op. I don't see someone who has given up and is awaiting death. I don't see the result of too much politics and zero compassion. I see a child who, although looking close to death, is TRYING to live. I'd have picked that child up and carried her if I had to in order to help her reach her goal. I'd like to think I'd never ignore a person's suffering because it interfered with my job.

Ironic, isn't it, that a child with nothing believed life was worth living while a man who resided in the richest country in the world found his life hopeless?

Could you have taken this photo, then simply walked away?

Deep down I hope she made it... and that the damn bird got hit by a U.N. jeep delivering more aid.

No comments: